Historical Civil War Autographs


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Free-Franks & Postal History


ADAMS, JOHN QUINCY (1767-1848)

# 5874

Sixth U.S. President - 1825-29

Franked Panel, 3” x 4 ½”, “J.Q. Adams,” as U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, the front portion of a postal cover, also addressed by Adams to his nephew, “Lieut[ena]n[t] Thomas B. Adams, Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay, Florida,” with stamped free designation and an October 11 [1837], Washington City postmark.

The brother of John Quincy Adams, third son and youngest child of John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Boylston Adams died in 1832. Born in 1809, his son of the same name and the addressee on this panel, was stationed at various posts in the South after graduation from West Point in 1828. Young Lieutenant Adams subsequently saw action in the Second Seminole War, during which he died of disease at Fort Dade, Florida on December 14, 1837, one month after the receipt of this mailing at the outpost, as indicated by vertical docketing at left beneath the postmark. On the panel’s reverse (images are available upon request) are approximately fifteen partial lines from the associated letter, with social content, presumably in the hand of a family member.


COOLIDGE, GRACE (1879-1957)

# 7831

U.S. First Lady - 1923-29

World War II Dated Signed Envelope – August 5, 1944

Signed Envelope, 3 ½” x 6 ½”, “Grace Coolidge,” a franking signature, with the typewritten address, “Chilson’s Shops, 34 Center Street, Northampton, Massachusetts,” and bearing a Williamsburg, Massachusetts, August 5, 1944 postmark.

The envelope is lightly and evenly toned, with a few superficial stains, and there is light wear and minor separation at the edges. The postmark intersects Mrs. Coolidge’s signature, which remains a fine example that can be dated to World War II.


JACKSON, ANDREW (1767-1845)

# 6025

Seventh U.S. President - 1829-37

Franked Panel, 8” x 10”, “Free, Andrew Jackson,” also addressed by Jackson, to “Major A.J. Donelson, Charge de Affairs from the U[nited] States to the Republic of Texas. By pr[ivate] Waggoner [sic] or Bearer of Dispatches – to the care of Capt. Easthorn, merchant New Orleans.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in 1820, Andrew Jackson Donelson served as aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Andrew Jackson, during his term as Governor of the Florida Territory and as private secretary to the President during Jackson’s two terms in office. Appointed U.S. Charge d’Affaires to the Republic of Texas in 1844, Donelson was instrumental in the negotiations which resulted in the admission of the state of Texas to the Union in 1845. This hand-carried cover can thus be dated to that period, and the importance of the letter it carried from the former President is a matter upon which we can only speculate.

Light soiling and wear, particularly along the usual folds; numerous tears and breaks, along with paper loss associated with the opening of the wax seals have been professionally repaired on reverse.



# 6679

Sixteenth U.S. President - 1861-65

Civil War-Date Franked Envelope, 3” x 5 ¼”, as President, “A. Lincoln.” The envelope is also addressed by Lincoln, to “Rev[erend] Z.P. Wilds, 120 Prince Street, New York,” and has a June 21, 1862, Washington postmark.

The previous day, Lincoln met with a six-member delegation of Progressive Friends, composed of Thomas Garrett, Alice Eliza Hambleton, Oliver Johnson, Dinah Mendenhall, William Barnard, and Eliza Agnew. The group presented the President with a memorial, urging him to decree the emancipation of the slaves, the position adopted at the Friends’ annual meeting. It is quite worthy of note that Lincoln wrote Reverend Wilds, well known as a longtime missionary to the poor of New York City, the day following his meeting with this group of prominent leaders in the Abolition and Underground Railroad movements.

Set into an attractive, inlaid pedestal frame, the envelope bears general soiling and wear, along with minor paper loss along the right edge and above the somewhat smudged postmark.



# 7823

Colonel and Quartermaster General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War; U.S. Postmaster General – 1791-95; U.S. Secretary of War – 1795-96; U.S. Secretary of State – 1795-1800; U.S. Congressman – Massachusetts – 1813-17

Franking Signature, as U.S. Secretary of State, “Dep[artment] of State, T. Pickering,” on a 3 ¼” x 5 ¼” portion of a postal panel, also addressed by Pickering to “The Hon[ora]ble James Sullivan, Boston, Massachusetts,” probably Massachusetts attorney general, later governor of the state, 1807-08. With a stamped postmark and free designation, the panel is marked “1798” in pencil in an unknown hand at the lower edge.

The paper is lightly and evenly toned, with several nicks and small tears at the upper edge, and there is heavier wear and soiling along two vertical folds.


POLK, JAMES K. (1795-1849)

# 6712

Eleventh U.S. President - 1845-49

Franked Envelope, 3 ¼” x 5 ¼”, “Free, J.K. Polk,” addressed in another hand to “Gen[eral] Thomas H. Bradley (Care of Gregg & Elliott), Philadelphia, Penn[sylvania],” also bearing a Washington City postmark and stamped “Free” postal designation.

There is nothing to indicate if the envelope is dated to Polk’s tenure in the U.S. Congress, 1825-39, or to his single term as U.S. President. The recipient, Thomas H. Bradley, a Williamson County, Tennessee native, served in the 1st Tennessee Volunteers during the Second Seminole War. Afterward, he established a large plantation on the Mississippi River in Arkansas, becoming one of the wealthiest planters in the area. In 1861, Bradley, a Unionist Democrat, was elected to the Arkansas Secession Convention, at which he was named brigadier general of Arkansas state troops.

Moderate soiling and wear is somewhat heavier at the edges.


TAFT, HELEN H. (1861-1943)

# 7053

U.S. First Lady – 1909-13

Franking Signature, “Helen H. Taft, Free,” on a 3 ½” x 5 ½” black-bordered mourning envelope – due to the death of her husband, William Howard Taft, the previous spring – also addressed by Mrs. Taft, to “Mr. George A. Stare, 1152 Muirfield Road, Los Angeles, California.”

The envelope is lightly and evenly toned, with light soiling and wear. There is a small hole just above the address, which is intersected by the oddly positioned October 23, 1930, Washington, D.C. postmark.



# 7054

U.S. First Lady – 1915-21

Franking Signature, “Edith Bolling Wilson,” on a 3 ½” x 6” black-bordered mourning envelope, postmarked Washington, D.C., March 12, 1924 – shortly after the February 3 death of her husband, Woodrow Wilson. Addressed in another hand, to “The American Legion, Allein Post No. 3, Vicksburg, Mississippi.”

Accompanied by a black-bordered card, with the printed inscription, “Mrs. Woodrow Wilson desires to express her deep appreciation of your kind sympathy.”

Both pieces are lightly toned, and the envelope has slightly heavier soiling and wear. Much of the signature is intersected by the postmark.


WOLCOTT, OLIVER, JR. (1760-1833)

# 7825

U.S. Treasury Secretary – 1795-1800; Governor of Connecticut – 1817-27; Revolutionary War Deputy Quartermaster General

Free-Frank as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President John Adams

Franked Address Panel, 7 ¾” x 9”, as U.S. Treasury Secretary, “Free, Oliv[er] Wolcott,” addressed in another hand, to “William Tuck, Esquire, Collector, Gloucester, Massachusetts.” With stamped postmark and free designations, docketing at the right edge is consistent with Wolcott’s tenure as treasury secretary, “18 Dec[ember] 1799, Sec[retar]y of the Treasury, rec[eip]t for $130.44. Marine hospital Money.”

The paper is lightly and evenly toned, with scattered stains. The text is unaffected by several holes, one in the upper margin associated with the opening of the wax seal, weakness and separation at the folds, and heavier staining along the lower edge.


YATES, RICHARD (1815-73)

# 7784

Governor of Illinois - 1861-64; Friend and Supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War; U.S. Representative - Illinois – 1851-55; U.S. Senator – Illinois - 1865-71

Franked Envelope, 3” x 5 ½”, “Rich[ar]d Yates, U.S.S.,” thus dated to Yates’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, 1865-71, also addressed in his hand, to “Col[onel] J.S. Loomis, U.S. Hotel, Atlantic City, N. Jersey,” and bearing a Washington, D.C. postmark.

The envelope is lightly and evenly toned, with light soiling and wear, along with several tears at the upper edge.